Archive for Garden Experience

What to do with Overripe Cucumbers

IMG_5853

So you come home from a few days away and find these waiting in your cucumber patch. Should you throw them on the compost pile or is there something you can do with them?  My Danish friend Lisbeth shared this recipe with me a few years ago and I now share my overripe cucumbers with her so we can both make up a batch of delicious pickles.  First you peel and split the cucumbers lengthwise then scoop out the seeds.  I call this the “dugout canoe step.”

IMG_5854

You then put them in a non-reactive pan, salting each layer generously, and let them sit for 24 hours.  After 24 hours they have generated a lot of moisture.  Rinse each one off with fresh water and let them drain (or pat them dry).

IMG_5859

Next mix up a simple sweet and sour pickling liquid of equal parts sugar and white vinegar and add pickling spice.  For these (about 3 pounds) I used 3 C. sugar to 3 C. vinegar and a tbsp. of pickling spice.  Bring the pickling liquid to a boil and slip in as many pieces as will fit loosely.  When the liquid returns to the boil, remove the pieces and pack them loosely in sterilized jars.

IMG_5863

When all the pieces are in the jars, fill the jars with the remaining pickling liquid and add a sprig of fresh dill to each jar.  How you seal the jars depends on how you plan to keep them.  They keep forever in the refrigerator or you can put them through the canning procedure to seal them for storage at room temperature.

IMG_5864

Five to ten minutes in a boiling water bath ensures a good seal.  If you like a bit of “zing” in your pickles you can add a few more red pepper flakes to the pickling liquid.  The Danes add peeled baby onions to the mix.  After two weeks they are ready to eat.  Pull out a “canoe” and slice it as you wish.  The flavor is like a softer watermelon pickle.  Yum!

IMG_5865

Advertisements

Leave a comment »

Garlic Bonanza

IMG_5554

Our garlic harvest was excellent this year.  My husband loosened the heads with the spading fork and I washed them and separated them.  We cure them by spreading them out on the screened porch until the green is completely gone.

It’s a visit with friends when I harvest the garlic.  Mary S. gave me the first variety I grew which has been my mainstay ever since.  It has a nutty flavor and has been a fair keeper, lasting well into March.  A couple of years ago Katie L. gave me some which is the largest now, nearly baseball sized.  This one keeps even better than Mary’s, giving me flavorful cloves still in June.  Last year Susan W. gave me some, they were small but they tripled in size over the growing season and compete nicely in size now with the rest.  The last two varieties I grow are ones I got at the Hudson Valley Garlic Festival about five years ago from a farmer who had inherited an old garlic farm and found heirloom varieties in the fields.  He had nurtured them into productiveness and shared them with me, along with his wife’s recipe for garlic scape pesto.  This may seem like a lot of garlic for a family of two but about 1/3 of it is used for the following year’s planting.  The rest?  There are no vampires around our house!IMG_5553

Comments (2) »

Garden Update

IMG_5514

Just seeing the profusion of happy garlic scape curlicues makes me smile!

It’s been a busy spring with much to sidetrack my writing including a 10 day stay in the hospital (Takotsubo’s Cardiomyopathy, look it up, it’s sort of interesting).  I’ve recovered for the most part and am back to gardening with my husband’s help.

First the peas!  They bore early and heavily so the experiment was a success.  They are finishing up now as the weather is warming, but we enjoyed several nice stirfrys and some lovely pasta primaveras.  I don’t think I would have had anywhere near this success if I had waited until the weather settled because the inevitable heat of late spring always brings them to a screeching halt.

Next, garlic scapes.  They have reached the height of their exuberance so I snapped them off yesterday and made garlic scape pesto.  Susan W., if you see this, the scapes from the garlic you gave me last summer had double curls, similar to the heirloom variety called Unadilla Double Coil that I got from a farmer in Poughkeepsie, New York.  I wonder if they could be related.  Such a lovely fresh taste, I can’t wait to see how they are as keepers.

IMG_5517

This is a scape from Susan’s garlic!

Lastly, I think I have improved on my strategy to keep my eggplant safe from the dreaded flea beetles.  A few years ago I began covering them with a floating row cover until the flea beetles had completed their life cycle, mid July here, just as the plants are beginning to flower.  The problem with this was that I had to open the cover to water and check their progress.  I recently visited northern Vermont and brought my head net in anticipation of black flies.  In looking over the head net, I got the idea that the fine mesh would make a good substitute for the floating row cover.  An internet search turned up “Noseeum” mesh in 72″ widths, available by the yard.  It is a very promising substitute so far.

IMG_5521

Noseeum fabric mesh protecting my eggplant seedlings.

Comments (3) »

Pea Planting II

IMG_5485

Doesn’t it look warm and toasty under it’s nice white blanket?  All is well, I think.

Leave a comment »

Strategy for the Timely Planting of Peas?

IMG_5470

I have always planted my peas on st. Patrick’s Day (a green activity for a green day) but this year, with three Nor’easters in March, one due tomorrow and yet another forecast for next week, the wisdom of this habit seems ill advised.  Peas are a crop that require cool weather to bear well and usually give up when the hot weather arrives here in Connecticut, usually mid-June.  If I wait too long to get them planted I’ll lose out on this lovely vegetable entirely.  I plant snow peas and we’d certainly miss out on the beautiful healthy stir fry dishes we anticipate for spring.  Well, THAT would be terrible so I’m taking a gamble.  I planted them on St. Patrick’s Day in a snow free spot in the garden, watered them and covered them with a portable cold frame a friend found for me at Costco.  The sun has warmed the soil enough to keep the ground from freezing at night.  It remains to be seen if the little cold frame can withstand the weight of 8 to 12″ of snow/”wintery mix” forecast for tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

Comments (3) »

Planting Onions

IMG_5406

Today I reached forward into spring and planted my onions, 250 of them.  With the “Bomb Cyclone” in full force, a thought of spring to come was welcome.  This year I’m trying Yellow Spanish Onion “Sedona Organic F1” which is resistant to pink root, a virus still in the soil after 125+ years.  They’ll be ready for harvest in July.  These will be a nice size for transplanting into the garden in April.  The days are getting longer!

Comments (5) »

Making Wreaths

IMG_5391

One activity I enjoy at this time of year is making a wreath for the door.  I especially like a natural wreath made with local materials.  For this project the  most fun is going into the woods to search out just the right boughs, berries and cones.  They must have variation in color and form to make it interesting.  There are a surprising variety of coniferous trees in our Maine woods so I quickly gather a nice assortment.

IMG_5384

Cup of tea and binoculars at hand (just in case a bird lands by the window), materials sorted, wire, wreath form and clippers at the ready.  Let us begin!

 

IMG_5385

Wire your elements together.  First wire cones, (leaving wire “tails” to secure them) then make an attractive bundle, (see below) wiring it all together with florist wire.  Leave about 4 inch wire “tails” on your bundle so you can wire it to the form.

IMG_5386Enter a caption

IMG_5388

When you’ve got 10 or 12 bundles start wiring them to your wreath form individually using the 4″ lengths.  Attach the end of a roll of florist wire securely and wrap it around further securing each bundle as you go.  Place each bundle so it hides the base of the one before (I was working counter-clockwise in the picture above).

IMG_5389

When you get to the final bundle arrange it so the base of the first bundle is hidden under the loose end of the last bundle.  You will have secured each bundle plus made sure it won’t get dislodged by wrapping it around the form with the running length of florist wire.

IMG_5390

When you are finished make a loop in the wire for hanging, securing it tightly.  Then cut the wire off the roll.

IMG_5393

If you don’t think your finished wreath will be full enough, put down a plain layer of branches for a base and lay your bundles over them.  This base will be secured by the running wire wrap as you go along.

OTHER WREATHS:

herb wreath

Wreath of fresh herbs (smells  sooo good!)

IMG_1686

Magnolia Wreath (see my post of December 14, 2013 for instructions)

Comments (7) »

%d bloggers like this: